Keith Goldhanger reviews the debut album by London band Real(s)
Those of you with a good memory may remember the praise that one person around here heaped on East London band CuT a few years ago. Looking like The Ramones and sounding like an over-polished Swell Maps this band were ideal for the small rooms they inhabited. Their releases (three 12”’s and a couple of 7’s on Camden based Ra Ra Rock Records) were great representations of what the band were achieving. The videos and radio sessions have always been worth returning to, the songs still sound as great today as they did in the backroom of The Shacklewell Arms and the band managed to match the achievements of many others who have either slowly climbed up the ladder in the world of Rock & Roll or crumbled into a messy heap as what happened here.
A move from East London to West London by frontman Dan Fatel along with new bass player Gabi Garbutt combined with the launching of their own record label ‘Music As Insurgent Art’ seems to have been a great move. Gabi Garbutt’s debut album with The Illuminations (The Discredited Language Of Angels) came out last year on this label. That is also a fabulous piece of music that Dan and current guitarist Jimi Scandal are also involved in. Original CuT drummer (and member of Stanley, whose tune Ratchet was a big favourite around the living room earlier this year) Louis Love completes the line up and the band had slowly started appearing back in our venues again over the past couple of years playing some songs that were continuing to travel along the similar path that the previous line up had achieved. After a few gigs still under the banner of CuT a name change was due. A new start, with some new tunes, a wider sound that could have come from 1978, 1988 or 2018 and eventually, this album.
This is a debut album that the band claim is ‘The soundtrack to the chaos of the early 21st century’s struggles’, inspired by the writings of Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism and touching subjects such as global social economic political upheavals and climate change whilst being inspired by a collection of philosophies including Lorca’s Duende & DaDaist surrealism. The band have a lot to say. Gigs have included book readings and their YouTube channel evokes memories of those equally confusing collages of footage we used to stare confusingly at when we’d find ourselves at Crass gigs four decades ago.
D.S.L.B opens with screaming feedback, an obligatory Rock & Roll (‘1-2-3-4 !’) count in and some fierce guitars. Opening track Sleazer runs away with itself until one of Real(s) refreshing and compelling choruses kick in and we’re off. Stop Freaking Out continues to keep pace with what’s already happened in the first three minutes and already we’re beginning to realise that these aren’t simple punk rock songs lazily or hurriedly thrown together. This is the sound of a band naturally gifted in thrashing away making as much noise as they can but never forgetting the beauty that the listener needs (and gets) thus turning any element of chaos into a new form of beauty.
This isn’t CuT mark 2. The early appearances by the individuals here may have felt like it was one or two years ago, but now, with this album under their belts, it’s clear that the band have moved on and are giving us some of the sneering punk rock beauty that bands such as Generation X or (first album) Clash gave us all those years ago. They’ve not erased any of the Psychedelic noise that everyone was doing in East London a few years ago either and the backing vocals are an additional instrument that are as important as any other instrumentation on this album. This is an album that one feels has been so carefully placed together that as soon as the listener begins to take comfort in what they’re listening to a slight change of pace is always just around the corner to maintain our interest.
Forth track Up the Slopes arrives and it’s almost as though someone has changed channel as the pace reflects an early 90’s Spiritualized sounding plod that confuses yet refreshes the mind after what has so far been a blistering fierce start. Vocals are more hidden and spoken and the track gives the listener an indication that this isn’t going to be an all-out sonic attack of the ears from start to end but a finely balanced piece of work that’s more than one dimensional. We even get a hint of some brass provided by producer Sean Read that returns later (Radiation) and prepares us for From The Seed, another typical Real(s) loud yet beautiful punk rock racket that just does what it’s meant to without falling apart.
Dark Web Messiah is another welcome change of pace and prepares the listener for the sonic (youth) change back again into rowdiness for Radiation, Rausch, Heaven and MIC Blaster. Four great songs that all seem to perfectly fit together.
For all Eternity is one of the best closing songs of an album you’ll hear. It’s the best way to end this album, a full stop that completes D.S.L.B (Deep Song Love Bomb) and leaves the listener keen to go back and spend another forty minutes going back a few more times to take it all in again. There’s a lot going on here, it’s a noisy album with a few tricks hidden up the sleeves from the providers, many of these unintentional additions that seem to come naturally whenever the band pick up their guitars plug in the amplifiers and let rip whilst not forgetting we need an occasional breather every now and then. Occasional breather’s were what we never got from CuT all those years ago but then again we only had the live shows and sporadic singles. Real(s) introduce themselves with their own identity and have given us a debut to cherish.
One for keeps
Real (s) are ; Dan Fatel (Guitar/Vocals) Louie Love (Drums/Backing Vocals), Jimi Scandal (Guitar/ Backing Vocals) Gabi Garbutt (Bass/ Backing Vocals)